Friday, December 1, 2023

Patriot Tours has expanded to a new location, offering segway tours on Fort Monroe

The cafe offers both indoor and outdoor seating. (HNNDaily)
The cafe offers both indoor and outdoor seating. (Melanie Occhiuzzo /HNNDaily)

HAMPTON — Patriot Tours has expanded its segway tours to Fort Monroe, taking up residence in a local firehouse.

Last year, owners Randy and Jill Pryor decided to expand their segway tours from Yorktown to Fort Monroe.

It came after Jill Pryor, who had grown up visiting Fort Monroe with her retired military father, decided the public needed a better way to see all of the fort after it’s opening in 2011.

She saw segways as a good way to share the fort with the public.

“It’s like merging history with adventure,” Pryor said.

The Yorktown location has been open for 8 years and after choosing Fort Monroe as their next location, Pryor said she and her husband had a decision to make: Were they going to have a mobile location or were they going to find a permanent location on the fort?

They found the firehouse which turned out to be the oldest fire station in the Army, built in 1881 and established in 1829.

Pryor noticed there wasn’t really a place for locals, visitors and Fort Monroe staff to grab a quick bite to eat so she came up with the idea of opening a coffee house — before they got into the segway business, Pryor and her husband were in the coffee business. 

A view of the coffee house inside the firehouse. (HNNDaily)
A view of the coffee house inside the firehouse. (Melanie Occhiuzzo /HNNDaily)

One perk of having the coffee house is the ability to have year-round business, Pryor said. People didn’t tend to want a segway tour during the winter months but they would be happy to come to a local coffee spot, she noted.

The biggest challenge they are facing is people finding their location. Since the public opening of the fort in 2011, the satellites have new data they didn’t have when the fort was under tight security — this makes mapping a bit difficult, she says.

The Fort Monroe Authority is working on creating signs to help alleviate some of that confusion.

A few ways that Pryor has been working on bringing in more foot traffic is by having ice cream socials on Sunday afternoons, open mic nights and soon, musicians and bands.

She wanted the coffee shop to be a local hangout spot for people to come and relax, and it’s dog friendly, too.

To learn more about the segway tours and the coffee house click here.

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